‘I don’t want to get raped’: Homeless told to move
JESSE Cakurs says he fears for his safety and doesn't know where to sleep after he was woken by a council officer in the middle of the night and told to leave a park.
He is one of several people sleeping rough who were woken in the early hours of Thursday morning and told to leave the council-owned park at Caloundra Aerodrome.
He said the council officer was accompanied by police and the group sleeping in the park was told they would be arrested if they didn't move on.
"I feel quite sick to be honest and the uncertainty is really affecting my mental health," Mr Cakurs said.
"Many people who are homeless are facing issues with their mental health, domestic violence, illness, financial crisis or became stuck because of an environmental disaster.
"We don't have a lot of choice in the matter, a lot of people don't want to be in this situation and moving us on in the middle of the night creates more mental stress."
Sunshine Coast Council division 2 councillor Tim Dwyer said members of the public were "always" ringing council to complain about people sleeping in certain areas and this group was moved as a result of several phone calls.
He said safety concerns arose when homeless people congregated in the same area.
"Whether people are homeless or not, if they are camping in a public space without authority they will be moved on,' Cr Dwyer said.
"When an officer goes out there, they don't know each person's situation.
"When there's a few people in the one spot we move them on because we don't want the situation to get out of control."
Kristy Savage has experienced homelessness for years and says she has been subjected to sexual assault, theft and abuse.
She lives in fear of being assaulted again and now carries a support teddy named Bronx with her.
"That's why we stick together in those areas that are more secure, because we feel safer sleeping in a group," Ms Savage said.
"And I don't have any kind of roof over my head so they will let me use their van or tent.
"I don't want to get raped."
Cr Dwyer said when groups weren't moved on, it sent a message to the State Government that there wasn't a problem with homelessness.
"We need to make sure the State Government puts things in place to make sure homeless people in Queensland can be adequately supported," he said.
"We liaise with relevant government departments to move them to a decent place to live."
Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle said this was another example of Cr Dwyer "passing the buck".
He said there was a need for a collaborative approach in dealing with the multiple concerns faced by people who were homeless.
"So, though we can start with a roof this doesn't resolve the many other questions," he said.
"With respect to this specific matter, my office has been contacted by one person who was moved on from the aerodrome.
"We offered assistance with respect to starting an application for public housing but we were told that was not their wish and they were only seeking information as to where they could sleep as a person with no fixed address.
"My office ensured he had information regarding free meals, showers, laundry and counselling services available to him across the Coast."
Ms McArdle said he would write to the Minister for Housing and Public Works to clarify the statues of emergency accommodation in the region.
While many of the people sleeping in the park moved on when they were told to do so, one man who goes by the name of Rowdy said he was physically stuck.
He stayed at the park into Thursday afternoon trying to figure out how he could move a tent, several bags, a plant that makes him "feel at home" and his dog.
"I don't have any transport, I can't just up and move like others who sleep in their cars," Rowdy said.
"I'm just a man with a little dog who is trying to have a crack at life."
Hotlines providing help:
Homeless Hotline: 1800 474 753
DVConnect: 1800 811 811
Ask Izzy: askizzy.org.au
Men's line: 1800 600 636
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call-back Service: 1300 659 46